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review 2017-03-11 20:24
Black Wave, Michelle Tea
Black Wave - Michelle Tea

The more I read (and watch movies and TV), the more I value encountering something unlike anything else I ever have before. Black Wave, by Michelle Tea, immersed me in a world new to me in several ways.

 

Though there are occasionally individual queer characters in the books I read, I haven't read much queer lit where a larger community is represented, especially queer women. Black Wave is set in San Francisco in the 90s at the start, an alternative past where gentrification has strangled most of the culture(s) from the city. In addition, the world appears to be ending due to advanced climate change: it's dangerous to be out in the sun even incidentally, the ocean is a trash wave, many animals are extinct, and invasive species have overtaken the dying native flora. In other words, the environment's death mirrors a cultural and, as is soon apparent, a personal one.

 

The protagonist, Michelle (like the author), is in her later twenties, and is the kind of addict who tells herself she's not because she doesn't shoot heroin but snorts it and is able to keep her job at a bookstore. She falls in love (or becomes infatuated) easily and hooks up with many of the women who come into her orbit, despite being in a "steady" relationship with a partner more stable than she is. At one point the point of view shifts from Michelle's to her girlfriend's, who thinks she's a sociopath.

 

That feels pretty accurate, but one of the amazing things about Black Wave is that despite Michelle's objectively unlikable character, I still felt very much invested in her. In part this is due to the humor and energy of the writing. For example:

 

Michelle seemed more like some sort of compulsively rutting land mammal, a chimera of dog in heat and black widow, a sex fiend that kills its mate. Or else she was merely a sociopath. She was like the android from Blade Runner who didn’t know it was bad to torture a tortoise. She had flipped [her girlfriend] Andy onto her belly in the Armageddon sun and left her there, fins flapping.

 

I may also personally respond to Michelle because she's a writer, one who's even published and had a sort of local fame. Around the midpoint of the book when she moves to L.A., the narrative is deconstructed as she attempts to write a new book. It becomes clear that not everything we've read so far is as it happened. Another aspect I liked is that somehow this sudden shift doesn't feel like a trick as can happen in many modernist and post-modernist writing and metafiction. How and why I don't know, but after some minor readjustment on my part as a reader, I was still invested.

 

I've often noted what a structure fanatic I am, and the last major selling point of Black Wave is the way it beautifully spins out in the last third.

 

Tangents were Michelle’s favorite part of writing, each one a declaration of agency: I know I was going over there but now I’m going over here, don’t be so uptight about it, just come along. A tangent was a fuckup, a teenage runaway. It was a road trip with a full tank of gas. You can’t get lost if you don’t have anywhere to be. This was writing for Michelle: rule free, glorious, sprawling.

 

As the world ends, people begin dreaming vividly and lucidly about others who exist in the real world, all over the world. They're dreams of connection and love where identity is fluid, and some begin living in them, like Michelle's bosses at the bookstore who hand over the business to her. So the world ends, but somehow Michelle's in a good place, and so was I.

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review 2017-03-11 16:13
Untrained Fascination (Brace for Humanity, #1) by Viola Grace Review
Untrained Fascination (Brace for Humanity Book 1) - Viola Grace

Like thousands of humans, Lianne works for the Rrassic on a world she didn’t know existed. A friend stuck her neck out during registration and hid Lianne’s compatibility with the Rrassic under the guise of an existing allergy to cats.

An accident at a public event made Lianne run into the action, and a few small cuts left enough of her at the scene to give the hunters a trail to follow.

Sorrok selected Lianne as a possible mate back on Earth, but he wasn’t the one to collect her during the final extraction, so he was sure that someone else would have found their way into her bed.

His delight meets feral possessiveness, and while he changes her life, he makes sure that there is a place for him in it.

 

 

Review

 

I found this world an interesting one if highly unethical. The imbalance of power made for a lot of discomfort but at the same time it felt more realistic as to what it might be like if such abductions were to occur.

 

A like the different kinds of the "races" in the aliens. I like that the heroine has a working class job she is very good at and is in this kind of zoned out space in her head in this new reality.

 

The hero is very steeped in his own culture. He is kind over all.

 

There are some plot turns that are unexpected and interesting and the romance is much more developed, longer, and more layered than Grace's books usually are.

 

I liked it.

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review 2017-03-09 02:46
The 12.30 from Croydon (British Library Crime Classics) - Freeman Wills Crofts

What first attracted me to "THE 12.30 FROM CROYDON" was the cover art. On the cover is a teasingly attractive image of a 1930s fixed-gear airliner entering into the landing pattern a few feet above the Isle of Wight. Down below one can see the trappings of a port, docking area, and a ship in the distance. Eagerly, I picked up the novel and began to thumb through it. As advertised, this detective novel (which was originally published in 1934) "is an unconventional yet gripping story of intrigue, betrayal, obsession, justification, and self-delusion."

Rather than a whodunit, "THE 12.30 FROM CROYDON" looks at a murder of a retired businessman on an airliner from the vantage point of the killer, whose motives and mindset he shares with the reader, trying all the while to keep one step ahead of the police and remain free and beyond suspicion.

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review 2017-02-23 01:04
ARC Review: Class Distinctions by Rick R. Reed
Class Distinctions - Rick R. Reed

I read the 2nd edition of this book, out 2/25/17. 

 

 

 

A quick glimpse into the relationship and almost break-up of two college kids who are young, dumb, and in love.

Kyle and Jonathan, both freshmen at university, are madly in love. Except Kyle is ashamed of his humble background and believes that Jonathan and his rich parents will look down on Kyle's poor mother when they'll meet at the upcoming Parents' Weekend.

So, clearly, it's easier to just break Jonathan's heart, and his own. Right? Wrong!

In actuality, this book is simply too short. We don't get a full picture of their relationship, so it's difficult (not impossible) for the reader to put herself into the shoes of these young and dumb kids.

I would applaud Jonathan for not giving up on Kyle (after the initial shock wears off), and going after what he wants, demanding an explanation for that which is to him inexplicable. He does listen and learns something new about his boyfriend.

Kyle too learns that maybe he should have not assumed and instead be a grown-up and talk about his fears. Pulling the crap he pulled didn't win him any favors with me, even if I could to some extent understand his fears. Shame wasn't a good look on him, and while I felt sorry for him during his pain, he did bring this on himself.

The author does a really good job exploring the relationship each boy has with his mother, and that's where this book really worked. I also liked that we got a dual POV, as both Jonathan and Kyle deal with their equally broken hearts. There was a lot of emotion that really came across well in those lines.

I also liked that they both felt drawn to the special place where they shared their first kiss, and thus got a chance to find their way back to each other.

Still... not my favorite by this author. I think this story might have worked a little better if we had been given a bit of a lead-up to their almost break-up, and thus seen why they were so devastated, instead of simply being told they were.


** I received a free copy of this book from Signal Boost promotions as part of the re-release of this story. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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review 2017-02-18 22:14
Class
Class - Lucinda Rosenfeld
ISBN: 9780316265416
Publisher: Little Brown & Co. 
Publication Date: 1/10/2017 
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 4 Stars

 

Lucinda Rosenfeld's CLASS features New York, Karen Kipple as she struggles to balance the demands of motherhood and career, always convinced that she was shortchanging one or the other.

Married for ten years and for the last five Karen had been the director of development for a small non-profit devoted to tackling childhood hunger in the US. For the past two years, she had been trying to write an oped which she hoped one day to publish in a major newspaper, about the relationship between nutrition and school readiness.

Matt, her husband is also a career activist in the nonprofit sector and she is always worried about Ruby, her eight-year-old daughter’s education. She encourages her former lawyer husband to quit his job and work with low-income people to assist their housing needs.

Karen had enrolled her daughter at Betts, aware that it lacked the reputation for academic excellence of other schools nearby, but Ruby would be exposed to children who were less privileged than herself. Even though the white population of the school hovered around 25%. Being in the minority in what she had chosen. However, was he sacrificing her education? Diversity or inferior education?

She had always aspired to a life of making a difference and helping those less fortunate than herself. She tried to live in accordance with the politics and principals, which of course included the notion that public education was a force for good and that without racially and economically integrated school, an equal opportunity couldn’t exist.

Ruby was smart and a voracious reading and life should be good. Karen, an advocate for non-food additives and chemicals as well as diversity. She has a nice condo, hubby, and daughter, Karen’s life seemed to be good in New York; however, she is unhappy.

“Karen’s complex and contradictory relationship to eating had also grown more in the last few years, along with weight, teeth, and marriage—somehow become a dividing line between the social classes with the Earth Day — esque ideals of the 1960s having acquired snob appeal, and the well-off and well-educated increasingly buying “natural” and “fresh” and casting aspersions on those who didn’t.”

Then when a classmate of Ruby’s transfers out of Betts to a more privileged school of white students, all of Karen’s earlier thoughts and commitments, quickly vanished. Her husband wants a divorce because she enrolled Ruby in a new school without telling him.

Following the lead, she moves Ruby and then begins an affair with a rich guy, Clay, among other things. More lies. Her emotions are all over the board. Karen is torn between social classes, seeing the poor living in shelters and the rich and their superficial ways. Hypocrisy. Guilt.

She was capable of paying hundreds of dollars for an espresso machine from Italy, Karen had a deeply ingrained cheap streak as well, which caused her to do things like go to the library and photocopy the crossword puzzle from the Sunday paper rather than pay for a subscription.

Rosenfeld kicks butt and puts it all out there. With keen insights, raw honesty, a brutal portrayal ---the truth of our unequal society in urban America. With humor and highly-charged topics, the author hits the bull's eye, with CLASS.

I especially enjoyed the wide range of topics from privilege, class, identity, entitlement, education, politics, domestic, marriage, social economics, philanthropy—to ethical dilemmas, the author does not miss a beat in this delightful satire.

A tale of one woman’s struggle between the madness of liberal and reality. The lesson liberals need to learn is that despite their arrogance, they do not have the power to alter reality. From liberals to progressive—is equality among human race the exception, and inequality the norm?

Much to like here whether you are a modern-day urban parent, grandparent, or single. Smart, witty, engaging, absorbing, and thought-provoking! The hardcover was stunning with a perfect fitting cover. An ideal choice for book clubs and further discussions.

A special thank you to Little Brown & Co., Goodreads Giveaway, and NetGalley for a complimentary reading copy, in exchange for an honest review.

JDCMustReadBooks

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/12/01/Class
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